A ketogenic diet is currently the go-to diet to shed body fat – fast. A ketogenic diet shifts the body away from using carbohydrates to burn fat and toward using fat and ketones produced in the liver. This results in glucose getting cut off from the central nervous system, which it uses as an energy source, making the high-fat, low-carb diet a great prescription for a variety of chronic health issues, as well.
Below are ten such chronic health conditions that have caused a reduction or reversal in symptoms when prescribed a ketogenic diet.
A ketogenic diet was originally prescribed in the 1920s to people with epilepsy, especially to those who could not tolerate anti-seizure medication or who did not respond to such medications. The same still rings true today. In fact, children with epilepsy who followed a ketogenic diet saw a 50 percent reduction in seizures.
Obesity affects 78 million adults and can lead to type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and increased risk of cancer. Additionally, 17 percent of young people in the United States are considered to be obese.
A study that measured 83 people suffering from obesity, high cholesterol, and glucose sought to determine the long-term effects of a ketogenic diet. The study, conducted over a period of 24 weeks, found that patients saw a significant reduction in weight, as well as improved HDL, or “good,” cholesterol levels and decreased LDL cholesterol levels. Blood glucose levels also decreased, proving that following a ketogenic diet over a long period of time can have incredible overall health benefits.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormone disorder in women. PCOS results in irregular or extended menstruation, infertility, and increased testosterone levels. Many women who suffer from PCOS are obese and at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. Women with PCOS who followed a ketogenic diet saw a rapid reduction in weight loss, which then resulted in less inflammation, reduced testosterone and insulin levels, and improvement in reproductive hormone levels.
Type 2 Diabetes
In addition to seizures, a ketogenic diet is commonly prescribed to those with type 2 diabetes. As with seizures, a ketogenic diet yields positive results and can even reverse type 2 diabetes. Most notably, a ketogenic diet can greatly reduce blood sugar levels, something those with diabetes greatly benefit from. In one study, 21 of the 28 patients who followed a ketogenic diet for 16 weeks were able to discontinue use of their diabetes medication.
Autism spectrum disorder affects social skills, motor function, and communication. A condition associated with how the brain develops, autism ranges vastly in symptoms and severity. Those with autism often suffer from epilepsy or over-stimulation. A ketogenic diet has been associated with reduced seizures and alleviates overstimulation of brain cells. By calming brain cells, those with autism see a reduction in compulsive, repeated movements, as well as improved social skills.
Parkinson’s disease is a nervous system disorder that progresses over time and affects movement, muscle control, and speech. The disease also affects dopamine levels in the brain. As the disease progresses, dopamine levels decrease, and since a ketogenic diet has been proven to have positive effects on the brain by reducing inflammation, calming over excited nerves, and improving motor function as a result.
Traumatic Brain Injury
In the wake of a traumatic brain injury (TBI), the body’s efficacy in using sugar becomes impaired. A ketogenic diet followed immediately proceeded a TBI can work to improve motor skills, cognition, and reduced swelling on the brain.
Nearly 40 percent of the United States’ population are migraine sufferers. A ketogenic diet can alleviate symptoms associated with migraines, severe headaches that can cause nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, sensitivity to light, and lightheadedness. Both the need for medication, as well as a reduction in frequency occurred in a study of 52 people on a ketogenic diet. The potential reasoning for these results is lessened inflammation in the nervous system and cortical spreading depression, or a quieting of the cortical neurons, the latter of which is believed to be the primary cause of migraines.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disorder that affects the central nervous system. Messages in the nerves do not transmit properly between brain and body, and, as a result, problems arise with balance, memory, vision, and other basic functions of the muscle and body.
One study found that a ketogenic diet improved motor function, as well as reduced inflammation in mice. The reduction in inflammation led to improved memory and mobility. In addition, a study of 60 people with MS who followed a ketogenic diet saw improvement in their triglycerides and cholesterol.
Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that alters memory, cognition, and behavior. It is a progressive disease that worsens over time. Alzheimer’s occurs when nerve cells in the brain become damaged and have a ripple effect, influencing the proper function of other nerve cells. Structures called plaques, protein that builds up between nerve cells, and tangles, protein fibers that build up in the nerve cells, are believed to be major players in causing damage to the brain’s nerve cells.
One study found that Alzheimer’s patients on a ketogenic diet saw improved cognitive function, increased energy, and a decrease in oxidative stress, which resulted in lessened Alzheimer’s symptoms.